On November 4, at police headquarters, MADD Toronto launched their Project Red Ribbon campaign to create awareness of the dangers of impaired driving.
“We want our ribbons to be seen everywhere to remind people it is never acceptable to drive impaired,” said Eva Ratnakumar, President of MADD Toronto.
She said that, every year, between 1,250 and 1,500 people are killed in impairment crashes, with another 63,000 injured. “These deaths are completely preventable,” said Ratnakumar, in her opening remarks.
Adding to what Ratnakumar said, Chief Blair said that impaired driving is “a serious crime that can’t be tolerated”. He said that, while there had been a reduction in impaired driving fatalities, even one life lost under such circumstances was “one too many” as he reminded everyone this holiday season to plan ahead and not drink and drive.
Minister for Transportation Steven Del Duca said that Ontario’s impaired driving laws were some of the toughest in the world and that Ontario roads were among the safest in North America but there was no space for impaired driving on these roads.
OPP Inspector Luis Mendoza reminded everyone that the campaign was not just a partnership between MADD, police and emergency services but between Ontarians as well. “The OPP is committed to reducing number of deaths and injuries but we ask drivers to do their part,” said Mendoza.
Echoing Mendoza’s views, Deputy Fire Chief Debbie Higgins said that it is critical to “educate those who have the privilege of driving,” and she encouraged all firefighters to tie red ribbons on for the holiday season.
Toronto Paramedic Services Commander Peter Rotolo added that impaired driving was the leading criminal cause of all deaths in Canada.
“Let’s make sure the red ribbon is visible all holiday season,” said Ratnakumar, as ribbons were tied on fire, police and emergency vehicles parked outside.